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"How is the subject?" Dr Roberts asked.
"All is well, sir. Project Q is doing just fine."
"Good and how was Z's transition?"
The scientist looked nervously up from his tablet at the doctor. Dr Roberts raised an eyebrow. The subject wasn't dead, but there was some sort of complication. That's what Dr Roberts read from the man’s face. Something inside him told him that another one of Z's complications had come up and despite the frequency of them, he still was afraid of being surprised.
"We're not sure how to describe it. He isn't fighting the process, but he isn't making it any easier either. His brain activity is high, most likely he is dreaming, but the chart reads he is still awake. He definitely can't be comatose, but we're thinking he might be heading that way."
"Take me to him," Dr Roberts ordered.
The scientist led Roberts through various hallways, babbling incoherent jargon in the hopes of settling Dr Roberts, but it wasn't going to happen. Roberts disliked complications of any sort, even if they weren't negative. Anything not expected becomes a move against his project eventually. Whatever this complication was it had to be dealt with and as soon as possible.
Soon they entered the room containing two large chambers. One chamber had three lab coats fiddling with the buttons and pads, but the second had a crowd of seven attending to the subject. Roberts could guess where the problem child was.
"Morrison, explain," Roberts ordered one of the scientists.
"Sir, the subject is being controlled by his subconscious," Morrison, a bulky scientist started. "His primary thoughts have taken control, his instincts. Our sedatives can't seem to put them to sleep. We believe that after all this time he is becoming immune to even the strongest sedatives. We are only given moments of reprieve before he begins waking up."
"Have you tried Morpheus 7?"
Dr Roberts stared at the chamber silently. Subject Z was proving to be more of a hassle than Roberts thought. He felt embarrassed because everyone considered Z a trouble subject from the get-go, but Roberts let him slide. Still, his authority was absolute, so nobody was going to bring up a 'We told you so', because it would cost them more than their job.
"Right, we're going to have to work with him this way," Roberts said finally. "Continue the process."
Morrison raised an eyebrow, but ordered his lackeys to do as Roberts ordered. Once they began work Roberts gestured for Morrison to follow him outside the room. When they were outside Morrison asked for an explanation.
"My friend, I know you understand the human mind better than anyone alive or dead, but subject Z will just conflict with the programming. We need baseline brain activity, preferably as little as possible. We need them so close to death to build the foundation of a Sentinels programming. Continuing will be like building on sand. His mind is too active."
Dr Roberts was silent as Morrison voiced his concerns.
"I know, Lionel," Roberts sighed. "But I believe this is the best we're going to get with Z. Q is the perfect subject, meaning there isn't another one like him out there. Z is the closest we could find and it will have to do. We will keep close watch on him in his first year, but I have a feeling his subconscious won't fail him ever."
"Yes, Morrison, a feeling. Half this job is based on feelings. If not ours, theirs. We've come this far with Z, which is more than can be said of our previous subjects. We can only accept what we can't change and push forward."
Morrison stared at Roberts for the longest moment, analyzing him. Eventually, Morrison buckled with a resounding sigh.
"I trust you, friend. It will be done," Morrison accepted with curt nod.
Morrison walked back into the lab to work with the rest of scientists. Roberts watched him and the lab coats work for a moment, but his eyes drifted to Z's chamber. Roberts didn't know what he was waiting for.
He saw the monitor. Morrison was reading the waves wrong. Instincts were close to the true reason, but Z was simply dreaming. It was a dream, or nightmare, that consumed the mind like a virus. Z would continue to dream this dream the rest of his life. If Morpheus 7 couldn't put that dream to sleep then nothing would.
With that comforting thought in mind Roberts turned to Q's chamber. His prodigy. Q would be the leader of course, the leading Sentinel. Unfortunately, it was on both of their shoulders that Robert's reputation rested. They better not let him down.
Dr Roberts coughed into his arm and walked back towards his office. He still remembered their first day. Q was an old soldier, a trained mind, maybe a little soft on one side, but a soldier first and foremost. He had his first brain scan and the scientists cheered in the lab. Q had no reaction, but that was obviously enough to let him know he was suitable. When Z arrived it was off the streets. A volunteer, one with some police work in his limited background, but that was three years ago. Z's personality was informal and often his methods were questionable at best, but to Roberts they were pure genius. Yes, Z often caused more trouble than anyone would like to admit, sometimes his worth was called into question, but two Sentinels were needed.
Dr Roberts sighed and sat down behind his desk, crunching numbers and monitoring the subjects vitals from his monitor. If the process continued further these men would be pushed to their death or to becoming perfectly brainwashed. At least, that's what the generals and chiefs knew. Roberts could not allow such a thing. Adjusting values on his compute when everyone left the lab was enough to ensure that by the end of the process they would not just be Q and Z, but men that they once were.
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